By Katie Wright
I love the movie, “Radio Days.” It’s a comedy loosely based on Woody Allen’s close-knit Jewish family living in Brooklyn in the 1940s. There is a great scene in which Woody Allen’s family, who are mildly observant Jews, are angry and offended by their Jewish neighbors, who happen to be communists, having a noisy party on the Sabbath. Woody Allen’s uncle starts yelling that their neighbor basically thumbing their nose at Judaism and that he is, “going over to make them understand they need to respect the Sabbath!”
The uncle storms out only to return like 30 minutes later with a crazed look in his eye. The family asks why the music next door is still blasting and the uncle says, “why should we be beholden to religion? We are workers who keep the means of production going! What has religion done for the proletariat?” Just under an hour and the Woody Allen’s naive uncle is completely brainwashed by his communist neighbors.
The horrendous interview with Dr. Paul Wang, Autism Speaks Medical Director, and Ronan Farrow reminded me so much of that “Radio Days” scene. Dr. Wang claimed to be “agnostic” about the vaccine issue when hired. Right, I know what you are thinking. “agnostic” seems to always = vaccines are 100% perfectly safe and how dare you ask questions! Still Wang promised that he was “open minded.” Believe me, NONE of this was my call; I am just giving you the public back-story.
Incredibly, Dr. Wang had almost no clinical experience before becoming medical director of AS! So I invited Dr. Wang to AutismOne, the NAA and the Autism Education Summit conferences. These conferences are all about ASD MEDICAL issues and treatment innovations. More importantly I thought it would be valuable for Dr. Wang to spend time with cutting edge ASD clinical experts like Dr. Rossingnol, Dr. Usman and Dr. Bock, doctors I know he has never met or whose work he has never read. Dr. Wang could also spend time with parents of severely medically affected ASD kids, you know, the kind of kids Wang is supposed to be serving. But no and no. Dr. Wang was not interested in learning more about our kids or about the latest ASD medical interventions. Oh, no! Dr. Rob Ring, AS’ Chief Science Officer of Dr Wang will not go anywhere near these conferences!
I will tell you where Dr. Wang and Dr. Ring DO hang out: at super conservative and academic conferences like genetics conferences, IMFAR and in Dr. Tom Insel’s office! At IMFAR one basically “learns” autism is all genetic, except for those trouble making oldie parents! At IMFAR one also learns that the only “treatment” is to “learn the signs and get early intervention.” Oh and if early intervention doesn’t work- tough luck for you and your kid! With Insel, Wang learns all about how parents of vaccine injured kids are just, “looking for someone to blame,” because we all know ASD is basically genetic, and so forth. You get the picture.
Wang and Ring have probably wasted 100s of Autism Speaks hours working on that ridiculous AS/ NIH autism “Biomarker” project with Dr. Insel. Their “groundbreaking” RFA calls for more research into, wait for it…see if you can guess….eye gazing ! I mean it would be so funny if it were not so sad. The hundreds of already published eye gazing studies are apparently insufficient!
Dr. Ring and Dr. Wang have completely and utterly insulated from reality and the real and immediate medical needs of our community. Ring and Wang have cordoned themselves off from the 25- 40% of ASD families whose child has regressive autism. No talking about that at IMFAR, unless it is to say that those parents “missed the signs all along!” In this process Dr. Ring and Dr. Wang have also walled themselves off from hearing anything about adverse vaccine reactions. Ring and Wang will watch no films on regression, attend no workshops on PANDAS, and learn nothing about the latest GI or about autoimmune treatment.
Such information is like kryptonite to them! Stay away!!!
Again, let me remind you that Dr. Ring comes from pharma and has zero clinical expertise. Additionally, Dr. Ring does not have a child with autism and has no consumer advocacy experience. Yet Ring believes he is in great shape to pass judgment on all of us who saw our children regress after over vaccination. In short, he and Dr. Wang have decided we are all wrong and they know better!
Dr. Wang only spouted the Dr. Ring party line in his horrendous MSNBC interview- that it is merely coincidental so many ASD kids experience a sharp regression during and after the time they receive many vaccines. Hmmmm….I love that, a “coincidence.” I suppose it would also be a “coincidence” that my hand hurt after I slammed it with a hammer? That hand was bound to hurt anyway! I suppose it is also a “coincidence,” that football players get concussions after major blows to the head? Why blame football! So unfair!
So, seriously, after Dr. Wang spends all his time with super conservative geneticists and Dr. Tom Insel and Dr. Coleen Boyle and his other “extremely forthright” pals at the CDC. What should we expect he will say? No wonder Dr. Wang sounded as if he were reading directly from the CDC website when answering Ronan Farrow’s questions about vaccine safety? I mean, truly, Wang sounded as if he were doing an CDC infomercial.
Wang obviously ignores all ASD families’ experiences with adverse vaccine reactions by quickly dismissing all their legitimate concerns. Nice work as a consumer advocate!
Instead Wang accepts CDC dogma as a religious like text! Although one of the main authors of the MMR study in question, Dr. William Thompson, insists that his data (in his study!) implicating the dangers of giving the MMR to those less than 18 months was eliminated from the study, Wang insists that Thompson and company did nothing wrong, Thompson released 2 letters to Dr. Julie Gerberding stating that CDC vaccine safety research is compromised and inaccurate. But no, Dr. Wang insists that it is Thompson who wrong because that study shows that the MMR actually prevents autism. I mean, where do you even go after that? We are just so far down the road of crazyland….
Sadly, Wang has turned Autism Speaks into little more the CDC’s lapdog.
Ring and Wang are not bad guys; they are just isolated, somewhat naïve, fairly arrogant academics. That describes like half the ASD research community. Still Autism Speaks is supposed to speak for families, and especially those too disabled by autism to speak for themselves. Wang and Ring do not even know these families, nevermind how to represent them. Instead of standing up for ASD families Wang and Ring speak up proudly for their pals Tom Insel, Marshalyn Allsop and Coleen Boyle. So who needs AS science when we already have the CDC? Maybe a merger is in order?
Katie Wright is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.